Esther and the Unseen God III

This is the 3rd and final part of a verse by verse commentary on the book of Esther

Esther 6

Esther 6:1 That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

We will see:

  • A reason for the second banquet

  • Why Mordecai was not rewarded initially

  • God’s hand in all of this

Esther 6:2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.

This was five years ago, so we have to ask ourselves why something like this was overlooked in the first place when he saved the kings life?

Esther 2:23 written … in the presence of the king.

It should have merited something right away!  So then we have to ask why now? The obvious answer is God was working things out for this time. What we will see then is the confluence of events in a way that everything works out for the best.

Esther 6:3 Then the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” And the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
Esther 6:4 So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.

So not only will God’s plan move forward, but the best laid plans of mice and men will not.

Esther 6:5 The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”
Esther 6:6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”

In this time before his fall, Haman remains prideful and blind to what is going on. If he would have possibly thought that for a second this could have been for any one else then he would have never said it – it could have been seen as a challenge to his position to bestow this honor on anyone else.

So the timing of him walking in to the court at the same moment the king is reading this section of the chronicles is both impeccable and providential.

Esther 6:7 And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor,
Esther 6:8 let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head.
Esther 6:9 Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’ “

This is the pivot point of the whole story, this is when it turns on a dime.  Up to this point everything was seemingly going for Haman and against the Jews.  Now the momentum shifts and we see God’s plan beginning to manifest itself — the fruit of the labor of His unseen hand!

Esther 6:10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.”

The king knew Mordecai’s lineage, which makes us doubt that the king was fully aware of the actual plan to kill Mordecai and the rest of the Jews.

Esther 6:11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”

OUCH!!! What an ignominy!

Esther 6:12 Afterward Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered.
Esther 6:13 When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.”

She already knew that Mordecai was a Jew (Esther 5:13). So she is saying something else here when she says, “ If Mordecai…is of Jewish descent”

surely fall before him… Zeresh was able to see not just an unfortunate incident, but it appears that she sees the hand of God in it or at the very least something more is going on than meets the eye.

Esther 6:14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.

So now we some of the reasons why there was a second banquet, there were quite a few things still to be worked out before Esther could drop the bomb.

Esther 7

Esther 7:1 So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther.
Esther 7:2 And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!”

So now she does not mince words or delay any longer – the timing is right to say what she has been building up to.

Esther 7:3 Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.
Esther 7:4 For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.”

For we have been sold… a reference to the money that Haman paid.

Had we been sold as male and female slaves… a punishment for disobedience

(Deuteronomy 28:15, 68 “And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.“)

Not only would the king lose the people, but would lose their taxes, and their industry and possibly their possessions and he would also lose Mordecai and Esther.  So perhaps the 10000 talents of silver was not such a good deal after all?

Esther 7:5 So King Ahasuerus answered and said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?”

This king does not know or put 2 and 2 together what is going on. He does not draw the parallel between what Haman has been up to and what Esther is now asking of him.

Esther 7:6 And Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

It is important to understand Haman a type of Satan and no doubt a tool of the great deceiver

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Matthew 13:39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Esther 7:7 Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king.

It was a lot to take in, Esther is a Jew, the Jews along with Mordecai whom he recently raised in status were going to be killed, and Haman was the one that talked him into doing all of this.

Esther 7:8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

In his begging for his life, the king makes it out to be something improper even though there were other people in the room that would have intervened (Esther 7:9). 

Nonetheless, this was a cue that it was all over for Haman.

they covered Haman’s face… He was not longer allowed the privilege to be in the presence of the king.– (KJV Esther 1:14)… which saw the king’s face… so they covered his face and removed him

Esther 7:9 Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, “Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.” Then the king said, “Hang him on it!”

The word translated gallows comes from a word that is most often translated “tree/trees” or “wood”; it is also translated as “timber” or “stick(s).” It was not this elaborate gallows that we see in the westerns, but rather it was some type of stake or pole that was erected. The idea that it was translated gallows probably comes from the English thought of what it meant to “hang him on it.”

Notice:

Genesis 40:19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.”

Word for tree is the same as the word for gallows in this verse and he is being hanged on it without a head.

So these things would explain how Haman was able to erect something so tall so quickly.

As to why it was so tall, we are perhaps given a clue here by the fact that they are in the palace and they can see the stake at Haman’s place. Perhaps Haman was looking forward to being able to view his handiwork while spending time with the king.

Esther 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.

Esther 8

Esther 8:1 On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her.
Esther 8:2 So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Still the same day (:1) that Haman was brought down, justice continues to be served and Mordecai is raised up to be #2 in the kingdom only subject to the king AND also he is given everything that Haman once had.

What are the odds?

But this is just the beginning of the deliverance of God’s people by His unseen hand. We still have the rest of the matter at hand. 

We need to remember now that whatever was written by the king was law and irrevocable — not even the king could change it

Esther 1:19 If it pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered,

This throws a wrench in the works — how were they going to be able to save the Jews.

Esther 8:3 Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews.

They have to figure out a plan, there has to be a way.

Esther 8:4 And the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king,

She is still following the rules of protocol.

Esther 8:5 and said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.

Revoke… reverse in KJV; shûb Hebrew; Repentance is the connotation, so we get a good idea of what it means to repent — also we see the need for a type of repentance in this wrongful action of Haman.

Even though the king bares a certain amount of responsibility in this, Esther places the blame mostly on Haman.

Esther 8:6 For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?”
Esther 8:7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews.

He acknowledges what Haman was trying to do to the Jews.

Esther 8:8 You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring [which Mordecai now has 8:2]; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”

Once again we see that the law can not be reversed, but other plans can be made. In other words Haman’s evil plan will continue to move forward, but now they must see what we can do to make sure that the Jews are not destroyed.  They have to figure out a way to counteract the initial decree against the Jews.

Esther 8:9 So the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all, to every province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.

Trivia: longest verse in the bible

A little over two months later and there is still just under 9 months until the initial decree was to go in effect.

Esther 8:10 And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds.

In a similar manner as before, the decree goes out in the king’s name, but now here is what it allowed the Jews to do (Esther 3:12-13).

Esther 8:11 By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives—to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions,

protect their lives… defend themselves from those that would come against them.

both little children and women … This is not to say that the Jews were going to do to them, but this is a reiterating of :

Esther 3:13 And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.

assault them… Jews, little children and women, and plunder their possesions (the Jews possessions)

As we will see in chapter 9 only men killed and no possessions plundered (Esther 9:6, 10, 12, 15-16)

Esther 8:12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

Esther 3:13  in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar,

Esther 8:13 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province and published for all people, so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
Esther 8:14 The couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Shushan the citadel.

Similar to the way it was done initially.

Esther 8:15 So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
Esther 8:16 The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.

Burden lifted for the Jewish people, so naturally they were happy.

Esther 8:17 And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.

because fear of the Jews fell upon them... A choosing of sides begins to take place knowing what is coming.

In Exodus 12 provisions were made if the stranger wanted to become a Jew

Exodus 12:48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

This reminds us of a future event:

Zechariah 8:22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the LORD.’
Zechariah 8:23 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ‘ “

Eventually all will become spiritual Jews/Israelites

Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
Romans 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

The people here in Esther’s time are seeing a change of tide or a swinging of the pendulum: Haman is demoted; Mordecai is promoted (by the king); the Jews numbers increase; a bigger “army” is forming.

They see the handwriting on the wall, from the hand of God and they see Him working and saving His people…even though there is not mention of Him in this book.

Esther 9

Esther 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.

Almost 9 months have passed at this point from Esther 8:9 (Sivan 23).

This delay that occurred by the casting of lots gave plenty of time for many things to happen in particular for the Jews to prepare and to figure out who was for them and who was against them.

Esther 9:2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.
Esther 9:3 And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.

If you were someone considering going against the Jews you would have to think twice knowing that the Queen who found favor with the king was a Jew and the king’s number 2 was a Jew. What kind of fallout would there be if they went against the Jews? There could be reprisals at the very least.

Esther 9:4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.

Something else that happened in the intervening 9 months, that no doubt played a part in all of this.

Esther 9:5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.

So not only did God keep them safe, he got rid of their enemies! There was no way for the Jews living under the Persian reign to rid themselves of their enemies and live in peace and safety.

This sequence of events happened because of what Haman did — but really GOD DID THIS!

Esther 9:6 And in Shushan the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.
Esther 9:7 Also Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
Esther 9:8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
Esther 9:9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha—
Esther 9:10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews—they killed; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.

Now there would be no one to take revenge either and this perhaps finished off the Amalekites, the mortal enemy of Israel.

Esther 9:11 On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the citadel was brought to the king.
Esther 9:12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the citadel, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your further request? It shall be done.”

The king is more than willing to help out and expedite Esther and the Jews

Esther 9:13 Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.”

Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows … Who were already dead. So we see more of the purpose of the gallows was for display

Esther 9:14 So the king commanded this to be done; the decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.
Esther 9:15 And the Jews who were in Shushan gathered together again on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men at Shushan; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.

This finishes off the enemies of God’s people.

Esther 9:16 The remainder of the Jews in the king’s provinces gathered together and protected their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.
Esther 9:17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. And on the fourteenth of the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

the remainder of the Jews... These were the people in the outlying area (:19). Remember they did not fight on the second day, only those in Shushan fought a second day.

Esther 9:18 But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth [to fight]; and on the fifteenth of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth… Those at the citadel fought one more day

Esther 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.

celebrated the fourteenth… The first day after they quit fighting

Esther 9:20 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus,

Mordecai wrote these things… Why authorship of Esther is sometimes ascribed to Mordecai; or he is at least a prominent source of information.

Esther 9:21 to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar,
Esther 9:22 as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
Esther 9:23 So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,

This is where the feast of Purim comes from and also why it is not on par with the commanded feast days of Leviticus 23.

The reason for the feast and its name:

Esther 9:24 because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them;
Esther 9:25 but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
Esther 9:26 So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them,
Esther 9:27 the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time,
Esther 9:28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.

Purim is celebrated today with a lot noisemaking and partying. They typically read Esther and act it out with a lot of hissing for Haman and cheering for Mordecai.

Esther 9:29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim.

Queen Esther… She gave it her stamp of approval as well

Esther 9:30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
Esther 9:31 to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had prescribed for them, and as they had decreed for themselves and their descendants concerning matters of their fasting and lamenting.

This is called the fast of Esther and it is typically celebrated the day before Purim since no date here is specified.

Esther 9:32 So the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book.

Esther 10

Esther 10:1 And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.

Often this was done on the neighboring lands to the empire in exchange for not conquering them. Money to keep the king at bay – and it even extended to some islands.

Obviously God sets up kings and grants favor, but a lot of it was attributable through Mordecai.

Esther 10:2 Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?

This may have been the context in which this story was written which may account for the style that the whole book of Esther was written in.

Esther 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.